(1849 - 1936)

Quotes from Ivan Pavlov

by Sandra Vannoordt
Student # 99140895
Human Nature, Learning and Mind 175.202

Ivan Pavlov was born on September 14th 1849, to a poor priest, in the small village of Ryazan, in central Russia.

Whilst at school, he was only a mediocre student, and his family hoped that he would become a priest. However, 'after reading Charles Darwin, Pavlov found that he cared more for scientific pursuits, and left the seminary for the University of St Petersberg', [Source] where, he studied chemistry, animal physiology and medicine. He received a doctorate in 1879.

Once Pavlov had obtained his medical degree, he went to Germany to study physiology and medicine for a further 2 years 'before returning to St Petersberg to work as an assistant in a physiology laboratory.' [Lefrancois, 2000]. He was appointed Professor of Pharmacology and head of the Physiology department at the age of 41. It was here that Pavlov researched physiological topics such as digestion and blood circulation, with the use of dogs. 'At the age of 50, he began to study classical conditioning, and continued to do so for the next 30 years.' [Lefrancois, 2000]

In 1904, Pavlov won the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for his research on digestion and digestive glands. In 1915 he was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honour, and in 1925 he founded the Pavlov Institute of Physiology at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Pavlov was an outspoken man, and in his later life was often at odds with the Soviet Government. However, his work and reputation was world-renowned and his nation was proud of this, therefore keeping him free from persecution. Pavlov continued to work actively in the lab, until his death at the age of 87.

Pavlov's theories are not only well known today, but they are still utilized. In fact, the importance of this great scientist is perhaps not emphasised enough. Pavlov is best known for his systematic studies concerning the conditioning of dogs and other animals, known as classical conditioning.

He used experimental animals, and once even dissected the cardiac nerves of a live dog to show how the nerves which leave the cardiac plexus are related to heartbeat strength.

However, in those days there were no animal rights movements to speak of. Yet, today it should be suspected that Ivan Pavlov would not be allowed to dissect a live animal. Animal testing continues today, but is bashed by many who feel that the animals should not be made to suffer. Some of the protesting voices have been heeded and in fact some manufacturers label their products stating that they do not test on animals. One can only imagine how the dog felt as Pavlov carefully took his insides apart. Thus, despite the landmark research Pavlov eventually did, it was not uncommon for him to perform these distasteful operations. While the outcome of his research proved valuable, he was not working on life and death research projects and perhaps should have not engaged in such cruel experimentation.

That said, most everything else Ivan Pavlov did was remarkable. The fact that experiments today reference Pavlovian responses attests to the greatness of his discoveries. During the 1890s Pavlov spent time evaluating the secretory mechanisms of digestion. In fact, he developed an operation to prepare an ancillary miniature stomach or pouch to observe the gastrointestinal secretion of a living animal. After those experiments he went on to develop the concept of the conditioned reflex.

Again, Pavlov was best known for his theories in this regard. The scientist confined a dog in a sound-proof room in a loose harness. Food was delivered to the animal by an automatic apparatus operated from outside of the area, so the dog was fed at an appropriate moment without interference from people. The flow of saliva from the dog's parotid gland was taken through a tube attached to the dog's cheek. The experiment was continued until the dog became used to the situation; Pavlov discovered that if a neutral stimulus, such as a bell, was provided simultaneously with a natural stimulus to salivate, such as the sight of food, and repeated often enough, the sound of the bell alone would cause salivation. And again, while the dogs were not treated very well, as it is likely they experienced discomfort, at least this latter experiment was an improvement over the earlier ones. Further, this experiment in salivation is still talked about and utilized. Dieters can attest to the fact that the mere sight of food creates a hunger response. Pavlov proved that such a psychological response is biological in nature.

Pavlovs Classical Conditioning Experiment

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